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Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Monday, 30 December 2013 23:43

New Year’s Resolutions: Creating a Life Worth Living

Wanting to improve and be a better person is what Creating a Life Worth Living is all about. We strive to find ways to make our lives more successful and meaningful. We talk about eating healthier, making better choices and decisions, and finding ways to take care of ourselves. This also applies to the resolutions that we will be making in the next month. Make sure that you are setting yourself up for success, not failure. Find ways to make your New Year’s Resolution work for you, in a way that is helpful and healthy.

Choose and focus on only one resolution, in order to put all of your attention on this. If you set 10 resolutions, you will find yourself spread too thin and will generally set yourself up for failure. Keep in mind how dedicated you are to your goal. If you can narrow it down to one resolution, you will be more likely to achieve your goal.

Consider the specifics of your resolution. Is this attainable? Set mini-goals in such a way that you take baby steps and know when you have achieved these, similarly to how we set our own daily goals. Instead of setting a broad goal, such as quitting smoking, consider specifying when you smoke during the day. Rather than “eating healthier,” replace your morning Danish with a banana or other healthier alternative. Instead of “losing weight,” consider implementing a 2-5 minute walk after dinner. Setting specific action steps to attain your goal with make it easier to be successful.

Keep in mind your time frame. If you set a goal on Jan 1st, by July 1st, you may not even remember what you had set forth. Rather than saying “I’ll lose 50lbs by Dec 31st,” consider monthly goals. Use monthly, or even weekly intervals, to keep track of your progress. Take into account the mini-goals or action steps from earlier. Consider increasing the duration of the daily walks after dinner, or continue to decrease the number of times you smoke each day. By adjusting these monthly, you are more likely to be at your goal by the end of the year.

Take into consideration your method of holding yourself accountable. If you write down and remind yourself daily of your resolution, it is much easier to keep this in focus. By being aware and mindful of your progress, you will be more likely to stay on track. Utilize your supports to help you. Have your nice Aunt Betty ask you every time she hugs your neck how you are doing on your goal. Be mindful of how you respond if you are not doing well. Acknowledge the hiccup, and then get back on track. Remind yourself that you are not perfect, but do not punish yourself.

Know that you may mess up. We are not perfect. We are not infallible. Mistakes are simply learning opportunities that provide us with insight on where we can grow and make improvements. Reward yourself and do not be afraid to share your mini-victories with others. Your progress may be the inspiration that others need to get back on track with their own goals.

Keep in mind that this is your resolution. This is something that you have set for yourself to improve your life. This is about you and your goals. Find what works best for you and stick to it. Above all, set yourself up for positive and healthy changes to create that life worth living.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 29 December 2013 08:13


It’s almost the New Year - time to make a New Year’s resolution. A New Year’s resolution is a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year. This sounds great, but how many people actually keep their New Year’s resolution past the month of January? Studies have shown that not many do. If you really want to see results this year, it’s important that you set your goals realistically and set yourself up for success. Here are some steps that may help.

  • Get Specific - A common mistake that people make is setting vague goals such as “I’ll be healthier.” Instead, make your resolutions specific.
  • Write it Down - Write down your goal and the steps it will take to achieve it. Sometimes it can become overwhelming and cause frustration, anxiety, or negative thoughts that can get in the way of you achieving your goal without a plan. By planning, you will be able to stay on track and be more positive.
  • Make Time - Be sure to set aside enough time to achieve your goal.
  • Move Past Doubt - It’s normal to have doubts or worry about whether you can accomplish your goal, but to make progress you have to move past the negative feelings.
  • Get a Partner - Having a group, friend, or professional to encourage you is a great motivator. Find someone to be supportive, positive, and keep you accountable.

Setting and reaching goals isn’t about willpower, but power of intention. Following these five helpful steps will get you much closer to accomplishing your New Year’s resolution this year!

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 28 December 2013 08:51

Chicken Breasts with Mexican-Style Rub

A variety of spices infuse this easy to make chicken recipe with flavor and heat. The chicken is cooked with a broiler, making the recipe quick, fuss-free and perfect for a busy weeknight. Try serving with quinoa and broccoli for a complete and healthy dinner.


  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. For rub, use a mortar and pestle to grind together oregano, thyme, coriander seeds and anise seeds.
  3. Stir in chili powder, paprika, pepper and kosher salt.
  4. Sprinkle two teaspoons of the rub evenly over chicken and rub in with fingers.
  5. Place chicken on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.
  6. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, turning once halfway through broiling.
  7. Serve with quinoa and broccoli and enjoy!

Source: Sonoma diet cookbook

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 27 December 2013 08:09

Paint Blot Imagery

Take a break from the holiday stress with this project involving blotting paint onto paper. It is a fun project that will allow yourself some freedom to let go, get out of your head, and let the images appear!

It is similar to the concept of the Rorschach inkblots—the projective test that many mental health professionals have used to learn about their clients. The term “projective” means that because the imagery is ambiguous, you can make your own associations to it by “projecting” meaning onto it.

You will need a workspace suitable for using paint, some sheets of paper (preferably larger, as the paint can get messy) and acrylic or tempera paint. Fold the paper in half and squirt some paint colors (less quantity is more!) onto the page. Now fold the paper back again and move the paint around with your hands, pressing it into place. Pull the paper apart and see how the mirrored image appears!

Make several of these. Have fun and observe what images appear to you. At Brookhaven Retreat, we have seen bugs, faces, and landscapes appear. How do they relate to your life? Interests? Struggles?

This concept relates to our brain being “imprinted” by our experiences. We are colored and shaped by our experiences. Some experiences shape us positively, but there is hope for recovery and change from the experiences that have affected us negatively.

Take it a step further and add to your images. Did something come out looking like something that you can further adapt? For example, I made one that reminded me of a crab, so I added legs and gave it some character and detail. What can you add to yours? How can you shape yourself to overcome your negative experiences?

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 26 December 2013 08:00

The Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberries and cranberry juice have been known to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), but this unique fruit offers other physical and mental health benefits as well.  The unusual nature of their proanthocyanidins (PACs) act as a barrier to bacteria that could latch on to the urinary tract lining.  In this same way, cranberries help aid in the prevention of bacterial attachment to the stomach lining.  This action protects us from gastrointestinal ulcers and one particular type of stomach bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori.  

Cranberries rank high on the list among the fruits and vegetables richest in health-promoting antioxidants.  Antioxidants optimize our health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures and DNA.  Cranberries are recommended raw for optimal benefits, provided that you do not experience digestive difficulties.  This fruit is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.  The phytonutrients in cranberries increase through the process of water harvesting and exposure to natural sunlight.

Fresh cranberries are harvested in September and October and appear in markets from October through December.  Choose berries that are deep red in color, plump, and firm to the touch.  Firmness is an indicator of quality and they are often sorted by their ability to bounce.  

Fresh, ripe cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator up to twenty days.  Spoilage is indicated if they are discolored, or feel leathery, sticky, or tough.  Once frozen, cranberries may be kept for several years.  To freeze, spread the cranberries on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  In a couple of hours, transfer the frozen berries to a freezer bag and date it.  

There are several options and recipes out there to help you enjoy eating them.  For example, add a handful to a salad, bowl of oatmeal, or roasted and salted nuts.  To balance the extreme tartness, combine fresh cranberries with other fruits such as apples, oranges, pears, or pineapple.  

As a side note, there have been a small number of cases reporting cranberry-related problems by individuals taking warfarin.  Please consult with your health care provider before incorporating cranberries into your diet if prescribed warfarin.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 25 December 2013 08:58

Pet Safety During the Holidays

The holidays are meant to be a joyful time shared with loved ones, including our furry friends and family members. However, care should be taken to keep your pets safe from potential holiday hazards. This can help prevent the stress and anxiety associated with a holiday trip to the emergency vet clinic. Here are a few tips to keep your pet happy and healthy this holiday season:

  • Keep your tree securely anchored to keep it from falling over if hit by wagging dog tails or batting kitten paws. Also keep extension cords or light wires out of reach to prevent electrical shock. When hanging ornaments, keep those that are breakable or small enough to swallow out of the reach of your furry friends.
  • Don’t share holiday goodies and leftovers with your pets, especially sweets and chocolate. These foods can make animals very sick. Keep these treats out of their reach and carefully watch unattended plates and trashcans. Just like kids, animals can be sneaky!
  • Holiday greenery can be toxic to animals. Plants such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettias can make pets very sick if ingested. Keep these decorations out of their reach, or opt for artificial plants to keep your holiday home pet-safe.
  • Understand that the holidays can be a stressful time for pets. Busy schedules and frequent visitors may cause increased anxiety. Try to create a quiet area for your furry family members to escape to, and give them some extra TLC this time of year.

Best wishes to you and your furry friends for a happy and healthy holiday season!

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:46

Cocoa Banana Facial Mask

Mud masks are nice enough, but then there are other facial masks made of tomato, avocado, egg and other ingredients that might make some people squeamish. This mask made of milk and chocolate can hardly garner complaints about the ingredients!

Lactic acid in buttermilk and yogurt softens and smoothes skin by exfoliating dead cells. It also helps clear out pores, leading to a brighter, healthier complexion. Lemon juice strengthens these benefits. Honey’s antibacterial properties make it beneficial for acneic skin, but it is also very moisturizing, infusing dry skin with moisture and elasticity. Banana, too, moisturizes, and its potassium is also beneficial to blemishes. Finally, raw cocoa is packed with nourishing antioxidants and minerals that revitalize our skin.

This recipe makes more than enough for one, so invite a close friend over. Enjoy soothing self-time and the mental health benefits of companionship as you relax to the rich scent of this cocoa mask.


  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon buttermilk
  • 1/3 banana, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

To prepare, add all ingredients to a food processor and mix well. Test on a small portion of your skin to check for allergic reactions. Then apply a layer of the mask to your face and relax for 20 minutes. When finished, wash off with warm water and follow with toner.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 23 December 2013 08:38

Tips for a Peaceful and Recovery-Focused Holiday

The holidays can be a very difficult time for those of us in recovery. We may struggle with the emphasis on spending time with family members, the focus on an endless variety of foods and eating traditions, social events involving alcohol, as well as emotional highs and lows. These can present a number of challenges to any type of recovery.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself what kind of holiday you want to have? Would you like for it to be different from past years? Are there traditions you have missed? Are the people around you supportive or enabling? What can you control in order to have the best holidays possible?

Here are a few tools to help you have a more peaceful and recovery-focused holiday:

  1. Predict times of high stress and places that cause you high stress or anxiety. In other words, be prepared and make choices about where you will attend and where you won’t ahead of time and stick to your plans.
  2. Plan self-care time, time to regenerate and relax and refocus on your recovery. This may be taking a walk, going to the movies, attending a meeting, calling a friend, meditation time, or anything else that gives you a time out to recharge.
  3. Plan to eat three meals a day and continue your regular exercise routine to help reduce the chance of a binge or focusing on food too much and allow you to maintain the structure you have created.
  4. Allow yourself some “treats”. Deprivation is not self-care and is more likely to lead to resentments, binges, or further restrictions.
  5. Make a phone list and carry it with you so you can make support calls whenever you need to.
  6. Go to meetings and support groups.
  7. Think about doing some volunteer work to reach out to others and be able to let go of the self-focus that can sabotage our recovery.
  8. Consider making an extra effort to begin each day with some prayer and meditation, even if just for 10 minutes. This can set the tone for the day and be something that can help you to find your balance again quicker when needed later in the day.
  9. Make a plan about boundaries that may need to be set with others.
  10. Make use of coping or positive self-talk statements. This can include “I have a right to say no,” “I know I can handle this situation,” “I am honoring my recovery by making this choice,” “I am worth taking special care of myself during this season”, and “I don’t have to do this perfectly but can focus on doing a few positive healthy things each day.” You can also follow this up with a gratitude list at the end of each day, no matter how small it may be.
  11. Remember that it is only you that remains responsible for your health and recovery, not family, friends, partners or sponsors.

Wishing you all a healthy and peaceful holiday season!

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 22 December 2013 08:20

Home Safety

The plethora of news stories on school shootings makes us reevaluate the safety of our surroundings. If even children are in danger when going to school, how are we to feel secure? Creating a safety plan is an integral part of mental health recovery for women.

Mood, mental health and housing safety are closely connected. A woman’s living environment is a strong contributor to her quality of life; her home is the first thing she experiences when waking, the last thing she sees before going to bed and affects many other aspects of day-to-day living. For women with illnesses such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and PTSD, a feeling of safety is crucial to wellness.

We owe it to our mental health to create an environment in which we feel safe. There are three things women should focus on when evaluating the safety of their living space: home interior, relationships and neighborhood safety.

An analysis of home environment, including the kitchen’s impact on our nutritional habits and the bedroom’s impact on sleep hygiene allows us to identify the environmental factors that can hinder emotional wellness. Such an analysis allows women to create a home that encourages the healthy habits that support mental wellness.

Exploring how family dynamics within the home affect mental health allows financial or emotional concerns within these relationships to be targeted in therapy. Resolving issues within the home and identifying relationships that are destructive to recovery helps women create supportive environments.

Finally, in order to choose an optimal home environment, women can analyze neighborhood location and safety, taking nearby hospitals and schools into consideration. Whether or not a woman feels safe in her neighborhood impacts recovery: frequent crime or poor neighborhood lighting can create anxiety and emotionally devastate a woman recovering from mental health issues. Sometimes small changes can fix this. Other times, a move may be necessitated.

Our home is the basic foundation around which our lives revolve. Every woman’s individual recovery plan should explore the unique facets of her home life in order to ensure a safe environment in which to continue recovery.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 21 December 2013 08:09

Rainbow Trout with Seared Sugar Snaps

This trout recipe makes a wonderful light lunch accompanied with a healthy salad; try arugula with pear and pistachios for a seasonal combination. This dish is especially perfect the day after holiday dinners when you may feel heavy and over-full, and it provides a wealth of nutrients we may ignore on special occasions!


  • 4 dressed whole rainbow trout
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 ½ teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • ½ cup vertically sliced shallots
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill


  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Arrange trout, open with flesh sides up, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  3. Brush flesh evenly with 1 ½ teaspoons oil.
  4. Drizzle juice over flesh.
  5. Sprinkle flesh with cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper.
  6. Broil five minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
  7. While fish cooks, heat a medium skillet over high heat until very hot.
  8. Combine peas, shallots and pine nuts in a small bowl.
  9. Add remaining one teaspoon oil to bowl, tossing to coat.
  10. Add pea mixture to pan; cook three minutes or until peas are bright green and blackened in spots and nuts are lightly toasted, stirring frequently.
  11. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and dill.
  12. Serve over trout.

Source: Cooking Light

Published in Brookhaven Blog
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We are a private pay treatment center and do not accept any type of insurance. Costs associated with care are the responsibility of the client.